Surely this isn't a representative sample of the world's population?

Correct: it's a self-selecting sample of people who are attracted by the Good Country and/or the Global Vote, so the results have little value as a statistical representation of the views of the world's population. No surprises there, because the Global Vote is not research

The Global Vote is a way for people to participate symbolically in the elections of other countries, and to learn interactively about the politics of those countries. They do this because they understand that people and places are connected in many ways these days, and because they care about what goes on around the world. 

And that's why we don't collect lots of demographic information about our voters or publish a detailed breakdown of who voted for which candidate in which country. The Global Vote doesn't exist in order to find out how a particular candidate would perform if the vote was international and it certainly doesn't exist in order to promote the interests of any candidate: it exists because so many people want to learn more and feel more involved in the way political decisions are made around the world, and to send out a message that we're all affected by those decisions. 

One day, it might be interesting to start collecting and publishing more detailed analysis on how people vote on the Global Vote, but it will only make sense when we regularly have many millions of people participating. For now, the point isn't the numbers, but the taking part. 

Are you seriously proposing that all national elections should be put to a global vote?

No. 

And I don't think it would work: part of the problem with elections today is that voters often don't know enough about the candidates and their intentions in their own countries, so their decisions would be even less reliable if they were really voting for politicians on the other side of the world. 

The Global Vote is not a model for some kind of one-world democracy, still less for one-world government (see FAQ: One-world government). It's a way for people to find reliable and unbiased information about elections in other countries, to learn how connected the world is today, and to interactively explore the decisions made around the world that affect all of our lives. Whether you like or hate the idea of globalisation, this is the reality of the world we live in, and it's not going to get any less connected any time soon. 

Having said all this, I do have a recurring fantasy that a country will turn up sooner or later wanting to submit, say, 5% or even just 1% of its general election to an international vote. That would be an incredibly powerful gesture: and in our hyper-connected, interdependent world, by no means a stupid idea either. 

Why should I vote in another country's election?

Because we live in a connected world, where the behaviour of each country has an effect on all of us, wherever we live. In democratic countries, we can vote our own governments in or out of power: but we have no say in the governments and policies of other places, no matter how directly their decisions affect our lives. The Global Vote is designed to fill this gap. I don't want us to interfere with the way each government manages its domestic responsibilities, but we have a right and a duty to ask them this: what do they propose to do for the rest of humanity, for the rest of the planet? 

What happens when I vote?

We count all the votes, and share the numbers as widely as we can. This will usually happen the day after the election takes place in the country we're covering, or sometimes on the same day, or even the day before. I do this in order to send the strongest message we can both to candidates and voters: today, people in power aren't just responsible for their own citizens, they share responsibility for the whole of humanity. 

If there are any Global Voters inside the country, I will report those numbers separately from the Global Voters outside the country.

But we can't actually elect anybody, can we?

No, we can't. This is what I call parallel voting: the intention is to allow people to experience the political issues of other countries and to express their views on those issues. If the result is striking enough, it certainly achieves an impact: not as immediate or as decisive an impact as electing a President or Prime Minister, but an impact nonetheless.

Luckily, in the modern world, influence comes in many forms. The aim is extremely ambitious, and always the same: to get at least one more person voting outside the country than there are 'official' voters inside the country. Every time we manage this, the world has changed a little bit, and it becomes harder and harder for politicians everywhere to ignore the message we're sending out: when you're elected to run your country, you become part of the team that runs the planet. 

Your decisions affect all of us. 

Why should I care who becomes President of some country I've never even heard of?

Many people might wonder how some of the countries whose elections I cover in the Global Vote with small populations, small economies, small land area and low international profile could possibly have much impact on the rest of the world, on you and me.

Welcome to the twenty-first century, where globalisation has created such a dense tangle of economic, social, political, technological, commercial, legal and cultural connections that every country, small or large, rich or poor, humble or ambitious, now affects and is affected by every other country, near or far.

If any country fails to control its waste or its emissions, it will harm the atmosphere and the oceans: and they belong to all of us. If it fails to make its proper contributions to the international system, others will have to contribute more. If it fails to maintain peace and stability, other countries will probably get involved. If it can’t offer its citizens good prospects, it will produce more migrants who will bring both benefits and stresses to the countries they move to. If it remains poor, other countries may need to help out; if it becomes wealthy, it may help poorer countries. Any country's people, its culture, its cuisine, its products and services may bring delight and variety to the lives of people in distant countries. People might visit as tourists or investors and contribute to its economy while enriching their own lives and experience.

These are just some of the reasons why we should care about every country on earth. And this is why we should care whether the leaders of those countries are outward-looking or inward-looking; whether they occasionally think about the rest of us and not merely their own voters. 

And remember, any country of any size or strength can produce a great leader, and share that leader with the world when it comes to making the big collective decisions that affect all of us. Great leaders work for all of humanity: they benefit all of us with their wisdom and courage and imagination, not just their own voters. They know how important it is to be a good neighbour: they know how important it is to be a good ancestor.

What happens if I don’t know anything about this country or its politics?

You don't need to. In fact the party politics of the candidates are of relatively little importance in the Global Vote: all you need to consider is how likely each candidate is to be:

a) a 'world-friendly' leader, committed to co-operation and collaboration with other countries, a principled player in international affairs, or 

b) a 'world-unfriendly' leader, primarily interested in gaining whatever advantage they can for their own country, irrespective of whether this is achieved at the cost of other countries, other people, other species, or the environment. 

I hope that the brief information given about each candidate is sufficient to help you decide on this point - as well as being balanced, neutral and factual.

Can you cover the election in my country?

If we're not covering an election it's certainly not because I'm unaware of it! 

We look at every national election going on everywhere in the world, but for the moment I'm focusing on elections for Head of State and Head of Government, and the occasional referendum when it has a major impact on people in other countries (like the UK's EU Referendum and Turkey's Constitutional Referendum). 

Elections of assemblies are quite tricky for us: they tend to be very complex and are deeply entangled with domestic party politics - which really isn’t what the Good Country is about. The way we resolve this issue is simply by treating parliamentary elections as if they were direct elections for Head of Government, and we ask Global Voters to choose directly between the party leaders. The process doesn't exactly mirror the formal election, but the end result is the same. 

We also like to cover elections for Head of State: although the role is often a largely ceremonial one, Presidents are expected to act as the country's diplomat-in-chief, and their impact on the international community - which is what the Global Vote is all about - can sometimes be a significant form of "soft power". The Head of Government tends to wield most of the hard power but the job is primarily focused on domestic issues, and these lie outside the remit of the Global Vote. 

In the future we want to cover other kinds of elections and appointments that have a big impact around the world: and that might include senior officials in international bodies and agencies, and who knows, maybe even the bosses of big corporations. We'll see. 

Is it right for us to interfere in the democratic processes of other countries?

That's not what we're trying to do. Remember that when you take part in a Global Vote, you're not thinking about what each candidate may or may not do for their own population, or evaluating their domestic political agenda: those are matters purely for the citizens of that country. As a Global Voter, you're simply looking at their answers to the Two Key Questions I always try to ask them:

1. If you are elected, what will you do for the rest of us, around the world?

2. What is your vision for your country's role in the world?

If I can't obtain an official response to these questions, I will always do my best to help you form an accurate impression of the candidate's views on these matters by impartially citing their previously published statements and other writing, their interviews, and where appropriate, their past performance.

Why do you only ask some of the candidates your "two Key Questions"?

I try to contact all the candidates in every election and offer them the chance to answer our Two Key Questions (1 If you are elected, what will you do for the rest of us, around the world?; 2 What is your vision for your country's role in the world?) but they don't always respond. I certainly don't blame them for this, since in the weeks and days leading up to an election, they are probably rather busy. On the other hand, the ones that do see it as a worthwhile way to spend a few minutes win my profound respect. 

I hope that as the Global Vote becomes more influential, we will find that more and more candidates not only respond when we reach out to them, but will start reaching out to us. 

As you may have noticed, I do my very best to give each candidate a full and fair appraisal on the site, even if they have not responded to my enquiries. 

Wouldn’t it be helpful to give more information about the candidates?

The short profile that you find on each candidate is, as you can well imagine, the result of many hours of careful filtering, editing and distilling of very large amounts of information.  

It would actually be a lot less work for me to copy and paste pages and pages of detail about what each candidate has done in the past, or their views about domestic issues, their political background, their biography, and so forth, but most of it is frankly irrelevant to the issue I want people to focus on. I'm trying to focus people's attention purely on the candidate's stated views and intentions about the country's international role, and I don't want to cloud the issue with a lot of domestic political detail. 

However, I strongly encourage Global Voters to find out more about each candidate before making their decision: this is why I provide links to further information wherever it's available. We're lucky enough to live in an information age, so you'll never have far to go to find out everything you could possibly want to know about most candidates in most countries (and probably far more). 

It's interesting how rare it is for candidates in most countries to talk about international affairs. Maybe they feel there are no votes in it, or maybe it's just not a topic they think about much until they get elected. Which is too late, in my opinion. 

Is this a step towards One-World Government?

No. 

I’m not in the least bit interested in One-World Government or anything of that sort. In my experience, government is effective in direct proportion to its closeness to the people being governed: many domestic problems in many countries today are caused by nations and populations being simply too big to govern, and central governments making policy from a position that’s simply too remote from the daily needs, concerns and cultural specificities of citizens. To try and replicate such a system at the global level is too horrendous to contemplate. 

I'm lucky because my day-job for the last twenty years has involved working closely with the governments of more than fifty countries around the world, on just about the full range of domestic and foreign affairs. This has shown me very clearly that "global government" is a pipe-dream, and that government only works when it's intimately acquainted with citizens and their needs and desires. Cultural difference is a reality, and a good thing too: it's one of the best things about humanity. It's something we need to work around, and work with, not erase or ignore. 

But just because I'm against the idea of World Government doesn't mean that I'm against the idea of the United Nations, or the other international agencies either (some of them, but that's a much longer discussion). On the contrary, I think that most of them do an essential job admirably well under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. We certainly need administrative and organisational structures like these if we're to avoid a continual 'tragedy of the commons', and they need to have a certain amount of power or they can't operate. But they could never, and should never, be able to dictate to people how they live their lives around the world. 

Who's behind this initiative? Who is funding it?

This is one of many projects that will be launched by the Good Country over the coming months and years. The Global Vote, like the Good Country Index, is created by Simon Anholt and a small group of volunteers, with no outside funding.  

How can you stop people voting more than once?

The system matches each completely anonymous vote against an IP address and one or two other details to prevent this from happening.

It's not 100% proof against fraudulent voting - almost no system can be - but greater levels of protection would require much more money than I have, and would also mean collecting more personal information from our voters, and for now this is something I would prefer to avoid. These early Global Votes are therefore something of a Beta-Test, but it is my intention to make the system more and more robust over time.  

Is my personal data safe with you?

Yes. Your details are sent via a secure connection; we take all reasonable steps to ensure the server is secure and uses up-to-date versions of all software and components. I would like to keep in touch with you and occasionally tell you about other Global Votes and new initiatives of the Good Country, but you can of course opt out of these communications at any stage. Should you decide to register for updates, I promise never to share your personal details with any other individual or organisation. 

Your voting choices are completely anonymous, and are not linked to your registration details if you do choose to register. 

Why don't you say how many people actually voted?

Honestly, because the numbers are still quite small: in the tens of thousands for the higher-profile countries; more than 100,000 for the US election and getting on for twice that in the UK election a few months later; and just thousands for the smaller countries. On the other hand, the spread is truly impressive - we almost always get votes from 100 countries or more.

Considering that the Global Vote is barely a year old, and the Good Country project has no external funding, I'm proud of these numbers.

But with so many heavily-funded online campaigns achieving millions or tens of millions of followers, not to mention random cat videos getting hundreds of millions, we’ve all become a bit blasé about huge numbers these days. Against this background, a genuinely handbuilt operation like the Good Country with no staff and no promotional budget, which has to achieve its numbers purely by word of mouth, will take a bit longer to reach those levels. Most people understand this very well, but public opinion is harsh!

Once the numbers are regularly in the hundreds of thousands - and that shouldn't be too long at the rate the project is growing - then we'll start publishing all the numbers and probably some analysis too (although note that the purpose of the Global Vote is not research).

In the meantime, please enjoy and pass on the word to everyone you know!